Gardening: Joining God in His Creation Work
For ever since the world was created,
people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made, they can clearly see
his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.
(Romans 1:20 NLT)
Amid the quarantine and lock-down, a lot of us have taken to gardening to pass the time. It's true that getting your hands in the dirt calms the spirit, gives us a sense of accomplishment and usually the reward is great.
Gardening can be therapeutic, but it is also hard dirty work. It requires pain, sweat and agonizing patience. I have gardened in some fashion for as long as I can remember Why is digging, planting and waiting for the outcome so gratifying?
Gardeners know that not every planting is profitable. Experienced gardeners know that some years the harvest is great, and other times there may be nothing to show for your hard work and time. Maybe it rains too much or not enough, or pesky pests destroy everything. Whether we receive a bounty or a bust for our efforts, why is gardening so rewarding?
Could it be because, in some way, we feel that we are joining God in His creation work? Is the garden a place where God is near?
I'll never forget my first year as a green gardener, and by "green," I mean novice. My husband and I were fortunate to have a garden spot some call a "truck patch.” That means it was bigger than most backyards but too small to be called a farm. We had no idea what we were getting into.
The previous years were a drought for our family. We were on the backside of our marriage's darkest years, and we needed a way to reconnect and work together. I needed healing and calm. So, we took over an abandoned garden patch on my husband's family's land and became gardeners.
We knew just enough to get started but not enough to make it through the summer. Fortunately, a friend who owned a tractor got us started by plowing the soil. My family still laughs at me for repeatedly commenting about how good freshly-plowed dirt smells. To me, it smells like possibilities.
We chose the right seeds and seedlings and planted carefully straight rows of peas, corn, squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I learned so much that summer. Who knew there were so many kinds of fertilizer? And I have never been more interested in the weather.
After several weeks, our patience and hard work paid off. The harvest that the first year produced a bumper crop. I filled a wheelbarrow with squash and corn on the first "picking day." There was plenty to share and much to say thanks over.
The seasons following the first garden were not as profitable. Raccoons, deer, and drought were difficult to overcome. Yet, each year I planted, hoping to relive the stillness I discovered at dawn, and the sound of bees, birds, and God's voice in the quietness at dusk as the sun disappeared behind the trees. In the garden, I learned to trust God with the outcome of my efforts. I learned that anything worth having is worth hard work, and healing a wounded heart sometimes means digging in the dirt.
Today my garden is reduced to a raised bed in the backyard with just a few plants. But the size of the garden does not matter, because each year when I plunge my hands into the soil for the first time, my mind races back to the first garden I planted over a decade ago, and I remember His presence and healing.
Maybe you are gardening for the first time this summer as you wait out lock-down guidelines and the reopening of everything you enjoy. Or, you have planted hundreds of gardens.
But have you considered that our need for a garden may have started with the first garden, the Garden of Eden?
God breathed the words, and the universe was born. For six days, God created from nothing everything. He made the stars and sun, the oceans and streams, the earth and all that is in it. In Creation, we see God.
Romans 1:20 says, For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (NLT)
His eternal power and divine nature are all around us in, well, nature.
God made the garden, but the first man was God's first gardener. Chapter two of Genesis starts with God resting after He created the universe, breathing into existence the earth and all that was in it.
When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Genesis 2:4-5
But nothing grew. Neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth...and there were no people to cultivate the soil. God needed a gardener. So, what does God do? He creates man.
He creates a gardener and invites him to join in His creation work.
He bestowed on Adam the responsibility of caring for the garden and its inhabitants. The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. Genesis 2:15
So, since God completed the Garden of Eden and placed Adam in the middle to tend and cultivate the soil, gardening is planted in our desires.
Gardening Time Is Now
Perhaps that is a stretch, or maybe not, but most of us have some need to plant and grow. With the winter's change to spring and spring to summer, most of us feel a desire to plant something and watch it grow.
It may be in pots and containers on the back porch or a "truck patch" that requires engine powered "hands" to dig and plow the soil. The size does not matter. What matters is when we see the tiny seedlings emerge from the earth, and our pulse quickens. We start to imagine how we are going to enjoy the harvest of our hard work.
Gardening is in us; it brings us into the work of creation. Gardening brings us just a little closer to our Creator. As the sweet hymn goes, "in the garden, he walks with me and talks with me." In the garden, God speaks, and we hear his voice.
Since my first garden season, God continues to teach me gently through gardening and harvesting, planting, and sometimes failing. Not every crop gave a reward. Sometimes, God saw I needed the loss more than I needed the bounty. That unknown, that potential lesson from My Father, is one of the reasons I greatly anticipate each planting season. What will God do with the soil, the seed, and the rain this year? What will God teach me, tell me or show me?
With so much concern and anxiety, uncertainty and change, perhaps planting and gardening will go a long way to changing your view. At least it will beautify your surroundings. Gardening does not require a half-acre truck patch. It can be clay pots and zinnia seeds, or a raised bed along the fence. Whatever gardening is right for you, each blossom, each seedling is an opportunity to join God in His Creation work.
Do you have a garden? Why do you like gardening, or planting?
What is the most joyous part of gardening?
Leave a comment below. Better yet, share a picture of your garden with us.